Gofio Goat Cheese from the Canary Islands

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Fine flavor and artisan excellence from Fuerteventura

Looking for a cheese that’s both exceptionally flavorful and equally accessible? Something different but not too drastic? How about this great Gofio goat cheese from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura? It just came back in stock at the Deli, and it is, as always, delicious!

In case you aren’t well versed in their geography and history, there are seven volcanic islands in the Canary archipelago. They lie not too far off the west coast of Morocco, and the island’s original inhabitants are thought to have shared background with the Berbers, the native peoples of North Africa. Despite the immediate English linguistic association to birds, the name “Canarias” actually comes from cane or “dogs,” a reference to the very fierce breed native to the island. The islands were conquered at various points by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Castilians, Portuguese, the British, and modern-day Spaniards—the Castilians came in the 14th century and the Canaries became a colony of mainland Spain. In 1982, the year we opened the Deli, the Canaries became what’s called an “autonomous community” (the same classification as, say, Catalonia) of Spain. 

The Gofio cheese begins with traditional Majorero cheese from Fuerteventura about 60 miles off the African coast. The island is home to the Majoreras goat, whose milk gives a unique, almost toasted nuance to the flavor of the finished cheese. The word Majorero is a Guanche (traditional language of the islands) word still used today to describe the people of Fuerteventura. The cheese is referred to as the “Jewel of Fuerteventura.” Gofio refers to the grain used to coat the cheese while it ages. Originally, Gofio was made from barley, then later from wheat, and in recent centuries after the Spanish colonizers brought maize back from the Americas, most frequently from cornmeal. It’s essentially a toasted flour also used for other dishes—dumplings, porridge, to thicken soups or stews, and more. 

With the cheese, the Gofio is just a wisp of a dusting on the rind. Its physical presence is small, but it adds depth of flavor and character to the cheese, leading to a slightly denser texture. The Gofio has become mine and Tammie’s go-to over the past month. Novices and cheese aficionados alike are highly likely to enjoy it. It’s great cut from the round as it is, sliced and put into a grilled cheese, tossed into green salads, or eaten with fresh fruit and nuts. Enjoy it with a piece of Bakehouse True North or Country Miche. Add a glass of wine and dream about relaxing on one of those lovely Canary Island beaches.